PATNA: Barely 20 days after virtually wiping out the top Congress leadership of Chhattisgarh in a lethal strike, Maoists in Bihar on Thursday launched an audacious daylight terror attack on an express train, killing three people and injuring several others during a two-hour gunbattle with cops escorting the train. More than 100 guerrillas, many of them women, forcibly stopped the Dhanbad-Patna inter-city expressnear Jamui, 175 km from Patna, detonated grenades and fired indiscriminately on the non-AC coaches.
The dead were identified as two policemen, sub-inspector Amit Kumar, RPSF jawan Sukhnath Deonath, and a passenger, Sarwar Islam of Purnia. The attack ended without the Maoists taking any casualties but looting two assault rifles from the slain cops before disappearing into the dense forests.
Eyewitnesses said the Maoists surrounded the train after it was stopped, probably by an accomplice who pulled the chain, between Bhalui Halt and Kundhar Halt around 1pm. Within moments bullets rained to the train as terrorized passengers cowered inside, tried to pull the windows shut and ducked for cover.
The Maoists split into groups and barged into some of the coaches and continued firing, injuring several passengers in the non-AC cars even as others engaged the cops for about two hours. One of the injured, Manoj Kumar — a railway employee from Jamalpur — was in a critical condition, railway spokesperson Amitabh Prabhakar said.
The attack, biggest since Naxals killed Vidya Charan Shukla, Mahendra Karma, Nand Kumar Patel and 28 others in a daylight ambush of a Congress convoy in Bastar on May 25, flies in the face of claims by governments in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh that Naxals were being steadily contained by sustained security operations and the heavy deployment of para-military forces and use of helicopters for logistics and unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance.
Train services remained disrupted till reinforcements reached the spot around 3pm. East Central Railway (ECR)’s chief security commissioner escorted the 2,000-odd terrorized passengers to Kiul station where medical teams from Danapur and Jhajha were stationed to treat the injured passengers, Danapur DRM L M Jha said.
DIG (railways) K S Anupam said Jamalpur superintendent of railway police Amitbah Das and DSP Alok Kumar were supervising a combing operation in the forests. “There could not be more than 200 Maoists in the area. The administration is fully prepared to combat them,” Jamui DM Shashi Kant Tiwary said. He said the first information about the attack came though a call from a passenger who hid in the toilet of one of the coaches following which two companies of CRPF were sent to the spot.
Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal said traffic on the section resumed after getting police clearance. ECR GM Madhuresh Kumar said the railways would beef up security on the trains in the Naxal-infested areas in the zone. Patrolling will also be intensified in coordination with the state police, he said.
Source: Time of India